Hanes hosiery co-op ads at various NOLA stores.
NOLA stores and Hanes
In the 1970s, Hanes, known for ladies hosiery and underwear, held a “once-a-year” sale. Various NOLA stores, Maison Blanche, D.H. Holmes, Labiche’s, and Gus Mayer, participated in the sale. They leveraged ad budgets by placing Hanes-specific ads for the sale. These “co-op” ads were paid for mostly by the manufacturer. So, the store promoted their brand and the product brand at the same time.
The sale in 1973 took place over the weekend of 13-January. NOLA stores enticed women to come in for the pantyhose and other items on sale. It’s fun to look at the styles from the advertising and art departments of the local stores.
Sign for Maison Blanche in the parking lot of Westside, August, 1958. Sonny Randon Photography via the West Bank Beacon.
OK, yes, I’m a homer. I wrote a book on MB, so we start there. “Hanes sheer-madness annual sale of fashion hosiery in popular shades.” Note the mail-order form as part of the ad. Stores in 1973 were 901 Canal Street, Airline Village, Clearview, Gentilly Woods (The Plaza wouldn’t open until 1974), and Westside.
The talented artists at Labiche’s opted for a bolder presentation than MB. A woman wearing nothing but a scarf in her hair and jewelry, and the pantyhose. Gorgeous. Stores for Labiche’s: 714 Canal Street, Carrollton (the old shopping center, where Costco is now), Gentilly Woods, and Westside.
Daniel Henry Holmes’ dry good store on Canal Street grew to a number of suburban locations after WWII. In addition to the flagship store, Holmes locations included Lakeside Shopping Center, Oakwood, Baton Rouge, and Houma. While Holmes didn’t have a Gentilly store, they opened a location in The Plaza in 1974.
Originally in the 801 block of Canal Street, just up from Holmes, Gus Mayer built a big store across the street in 1948, demolishing the old Pickwick Hotel building. They also participated in the Hanes sale promotion. Gus Mayer operated not only the Canal Street store, but one at Elysian Fields and Gentilly Blvd., as well as Carrollton, Clearview, and Oakwood Shopping Centers. While Gus Mayer ATNM as NOLA stores go, they still have stores in Birmingham, Alabama.
Godchaux’s originally occupied the 501 block of Canal, later moving to the 801 block, next to the Boston Club. By the 1970s, they expanded to Lakeside and Edgewater Plaza in Biloxi. Their take on Hanes was different than the other NOLA stores. Godchaux’s opted for a cold-weather appeal,
Our sixth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Krauss Department Store
NOLA History Guy December – Krauss
At the end of the 19th Century, the 1201 block of Canal Street consisted of a series of single-family homes. In 1899, Businessman and real estate developer bought those buildings. Fellman demolished those buildings in 1903, building a two-story retail store.
Fellman was a well-established merchant in New Orleans. He started with his older brother, Bernard, running a dry goods shop in the 701 block of Canal. The brothers split, with Leon opening his own store in the Mercier Building at 901 Canal. When S. J. Shwartz acquired 100% of that building, Fellman moved to 800 Canal. While he saw potential for a successful store in the 1201 block, he wasn’t going that far up the street.
Leon invited his nephews, the Krausz brothers, to open their own store in his new building. The brothers changed their last name to Krauss, and opened what the Daily Picayune called “a veritable trade palace” in 1903. Krauss Department Store operated there, eventually occupying two city blocks. The store closed in 1997.
Growth and expansion
Krauss was an instant hit. Since the four Krauss brothers were bachelors, none of them had family to turn the store over to upon their retirement. So, they passed control over to Leon Heymann, their brother-in-law. Leon a New Orleanian with business interests in Houma, married Tekla Heymann. He assumed control of Krauss in 1920. Heymann acquired the entire square block behind the store, as well as the block directly behind that. With help from his son, Jimmy, and brother-in-law, Leon Wolf, Heymann expanded the store to fill the 1201 block, back to Iberville Street.
In the 1950s, J. Phil Preddy managed the store’s displays and advertising departments. Preddy, a talented artist in his own right, created works for the store ranging from ad illustrations to giant murals painted on the front of the store. What better for NOLA History Guy December than Preddy’s Christmas display mural for the 1952 holiday season.
For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.
Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.
Our second installment of NOLA History Guy December features Maison Blanche.
Maison Blanche Department Stores – NOLA History Guy December
Simon J. Shwartz was an experienced realtor. He grew up in the family business, A. Shwartz and Son. Simon was the third son of Abraham Shwartz. With two older brothers working with their dad to run the shop in the Touro Buildings, S.J. went up to New York City. He became the store’s buyer. He came home to work in the store in the late 1880s, and married the daughter of Isidore Newman, a successful banker.
After the devastating fire in the Touro Buildings (the 701 block of Canal Street) on February 14, 1892, S.J. moved the family business up the street to the Mercier Building at 901 Canal Street (corner Dauphine). The family then re-built the 701-block store. S.J. was at a crossroads.
Creating Maison Blanche
Shwartz restored the success of A. Shwartz and Son after the fire, but his brother wanted to bring the store back down the street. So, S.J. pitched an idea to his father-in-law. He wanted to open the first true “department store” in New Orleans. Up until this point, “dry goods” stores like his family’s, the Fellman’s, and Daniel Henry Holmes’ store, serviced the city. They were joined by boutiques, like the Krausz Brothers shop at 811 Canal Street. Shwartz wanted to acquire the entire Mercier building, and he needed an investor.
Newman liked S.J.’s concept and backed it. Shwartz purchased the building, evicting Leon Fellman (who moved his store to the Pickwick Hotel Building at 800 Canal). Shwartz remodeled his building’s interior. By the Fall of 1897, he was ready to open.
The “Brain Trust”
Newman’s investment had strings attached. He had Shwartz hire Gus Gus Schullhoefer, Newmman’s brother-in-law, and Hartwig D. Newman, his son. They were smart guys, and gave Newman some eyes loyal to him inside the business. When Maison Blanche opened on October 31, 1897, the Daily Picayune gave over most of their front page to the store’s opening. In addition to details on the store, they profiled the three top executives. Here’s the caption for the image in the paper from the book:
The Maison Blanche Brain Trust. Isidore Newman’s son-in-law, S.J. Shwartz, his brother-in-law, Gus Schulhoefer, and his son, Hartwig Newman, were the first management team of Maison Blanche, from a profile piece in the New Orleans Picayune in 1897.
Into the 20th century
The was a success from the start. While it would be another fifty years until their precious Christmas Mascot, Mister Bingle, made his debut, Maison Blanche quickly earned their tagline, “Greatest Store South.”
Maison Blanche Department Stores
Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley
From the back cover:
On October 31, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman–with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman–opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building–13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character “Mr. Bingle,” in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.
Stores like 1303 St. Ann Street were a common sight in the Treme.
1303 St. Ann Street
Painting of the corner store at 1303 St. Ann Street by Boyd Cruise. Here’s the description of the painting from THNOC:
View of a corner building in Faubourg Tremé with a grocery sign. Parts of the rain gutter and gallery railing are missing.
The location is currently part of Armstrong Park, across from the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Chase painted 1303 St. Ann Street in 1938. Chase painted a lot of locations at this time for various federal projects.
This building displays a “Grocery” sign and two coffee advertisements, one for Luzianne and one for French Market. Even though Prohibition ended five years earlier, the store may not yet have returned to alcohol sales.
The owners chose not to put a name on their sign. That’s not surprising for the 1930s. Most customers shopping here walked from around the corner. While the big stores on Canal Street installed air-conditioning in the early 1930s, this store likely relied on fans and open windows. Without refrigeration, they offered dry goods, canned foods, flour, spices, etc. Neighbors looking for meat and seafood still walked over to the Treme Market. The transition to a wider inventory would have started at this time, but WWII slowed the process down for ten or so years.
Alvik Boyd Cruise was born in 1909, and came to New Orleans in 1928. Read this great profile of him at 64 Parishes. His body of work contains a number of architectural paintings commissioned for a Historic American Buildings Survey of the French Quarter. The National Park Service started the HABS project in 1933. It’s currently administered by the NPS and the Library of Congress. The HABS survey of Canal Station is a great example of the product.
64 Parishes notes that Cruise made use of “plan books” archived at the Orleans Parish Notarial Archives to create representative portraits of various structures. While 1303 St. Ann Street isn’t explicitly listed as one of HABS paintings (the survey was for the Quarter), it’s certainly of that style.
Cruise later became the first director of The Historic New Orleans Collection.
Stuffed Bingle hit his stride in the early 1950s.
Santa and Mr. Bingle on the front of Maison Blanche, 901 Canal Street, in 1952. Stuffed Bingles were sold on the Third Floor. (Franck Studios photo courtesy The Historic New Orleans Collection)
Jingle Jangle Jingle!
The story of Mr. Bingle is Chapter 3 of my book, Maison Blanche Department Stores, from Emile Alline’s preliminary doodles to the puppets, to the Big Bingle that rules Celebration in the Oaks at City Park. That story is now seventy-five years old and going strong.
Mr. Bingle was one of those marketing ideas that was a winner from the beginning. It did take some time to make that happen, though. Alline’s imagination became doodles, then sketches to pitch management. Then the ad department took over, and the little snow elf was in the corners of ads every December.
Stuffed Bingle Prototype
After Mr. Bingle took over the full-page ads, The little guy needed a three-dimensional presence. Alline ordered a fifteen-inch Bingle doll.The doll helped ad development, since he could be posed and photographed with merchandise from the store.
That prototype evolved into the puppets. Oscar Isentrout connected Alline with a German puppet-maker. They copied the prototype doll, creating two Bingle puppets. One puppet stayed at the store. Oscar went around town with the other puppet, doing shows at the branch stores. Oscar performed the voice of the Bingle puppet for those shows, along with the wonderful WDSU-TV commercials.
Bingles for Everyone
Stuffed Bingle in an ad for Maison Blanche in the Times-Picayune, 19-December-1949.
By 1949, the success of print advertising and Oscar’s puppet shows created a demand for Bingles for the kids. The prototype inspired a lasting product:
in big 16″ size
He’s in softest rayon Plush and an exact reproduction of the jolly Mir. Bingle seen in MB’s famous Puppet Show. tots adore him.
In addition to the 16″ Bingle, MB offered him in 11″ for 1.98 and 20″ for 4.98.
To encourage continued sales, MB began branding the Bingles with the year on his foot. Now, families bought Bingles for newborns, etc. As Stuffed Bingles grew in popularity, the dolls spread out to other chains owned by Mercantile Stores. That holding company owned Maison Blanche, along with a dozen other stores. I was totally mind-blown in 1996, when on a business trip to Fargo, ND. As I walked through West Acres Mall (home of the Roger Maris Museum), I stepped into DeLendrecie’s Department Store. There was Mr. Bingle! But of course, a snow elf in snowy North Dakota!
Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a big deal. Christmas was the big deal.
Atrium at Maison Blanche, Lake Forest, mid-1970s. T-P photo.
Maison Blanche Halloween
Interior shot of the Maison Blanche store in The Plaza at Lake Forest. The store opened in 1974. The store incorporated many of the design features of the one in Clearview Shopping Center in Metairie. This photo features the open-air center atrium. The escalators stood on either side, with the Fine Jewelry department on the ground floor. The mall-side entrance to the store stood to the photographer’s left. First floor departments included cosmetics, jewelry, candy, juniors and menswear. Retailers always believed menswear should be easily accessible, on the ground floor.
“You’ll be a sleeping beauty in dreamy sleepwear by Gilead…short waltz length nylon tricot gowns with matching coats…” – women’s sleepwear, items a husband or boyfriend find difficult to buy as gifts. So, appeal to the ladies directly, before the Christmas ad onslaught.
This ad, from the Times-Picayune, on 31-October-1978, is a great example of how seriously Halloween was a part of the chain’s Fall marketing. Yes, there’s nothing in the ad for spooky season. That’s because Halloween is merely a blip on the radar. The focus for department stores like MB was always the post-Thanksgiving shopping season. While stores like Spirit Halloween, Party City, discounters like K-Mart, and the old five-and-dimes offered what you needed for Halloween, MB and its competitors didn’t bother. Setting up for Halloween required taking space from multiple departments. The managers of those departments and the buyers they worked for balked at disrupting the holiday mojo. September heralded the “Pre-Christmas” promotions. Those sales carried on through November. The day after Thanksgiving marked the formal start of the Christmas season. To set up displays for special merchandise at the end of October, only to break them down days later made no sense.
Halloween in Men’s Suits
So, Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a thing. In fact, I took the day off when this ad ran in 1978. The “Haunted House” we held at the Lambda Chi Alpha (University of New Orleans) house in Gentilly needed more help than the Men’s department at MB Clearview. Since we worked on commission, my colleagues certainly didn’t miss me on a slow night.
Hope your Halloween was a good one! This post goes up a day late, but that’s OK, because we’re still in the middle of All Hallows Eve, All Saints, and All Souls.